Kuwait, October 30, 2016: The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is delighted to confirm that athletes from the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) will take part in the OCA’s 8th Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, next February.
The OCA was approached initially by Mr John Coates, a Vice President of the International Olympic Committee and President of the Australian Olympic Committee, on the sidelines of the OCA General Assembly in Danang, Vietnam, last month.
Mr Coates said that the Asian Winter Games offered winter sports athletes from Australia, New Zealand and other countries in Oceania the chance to join a high-level international competition on a neighbouring continent and gain experience in their attempts to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games.
The OCA fully supported the proposal but said the final decision would rest with the organising committee of the 8th Asian Winter Games, which will take place in Sapporo from February 19-26, 2017, with five sports, 11 disciplines and 64 events.
Sapporo organisers have now cleared the way for Oceania to compete, although their representatives will be regarded as guest athletes, can compete in individual events only and will not be eligible to win medals.
The Director General of the OCA, Mr Husain Al Musallam, said he was delighted that Sapporo organisers had approved the participation of Oceania athletes.
“This will add value to our Asian Winter Games and strengthen the ties between the OCA and the Oceania National Olympic Committees,” said Mr Al Musallam.
“We would like to thank the organising committee in Sapporo for approving this proposal at short notice and we look forward to an even more competitive Asian Winter Games just one year before the next Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea, in 2018.”
The OCA will organise two multi-sport events in 2017: the 8th AWG in February and the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, from September 17-27.
AIMAG5 will be the first time for Oceania to officially join an OCA event, with 17 Oceania NOCs alongside the OCA’s 45 NOCs providing 5,500 athletes in 21 sports.
“These are very exciting times for sport in Asia, with Oceania joining us in Sapporo as guests and for the first time in an official capacity at Ashgabat,” added Mr Al Musallam.
“In addition to this we have our next three Asian Games in place – at Jakarta-Palembang, Indonesia, in 2018, Hangzhou, China, in 2022 and Aichi-Nagoya, Japan, in 2026.
“The next three Olympic Games are also being held in Asia – PyeongChang 2018, Tokyo 2020 and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing – and this shows the vibrant sports scene throughout the continent and the enthusiasm for the Olympic Movement.”
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